Monitoring Astrocyte Reactivity and Proliferation in Vitro Under Ischemic-Like Conditions

J Vis Exp. 2017 Oct 21;(128):55108. doi: 10.3791/55108.


Ischemic stroke is a complex brain injury caused by a thrombus or embolus obstructing blood flow to parts of the brain. This leads to deprivation of oxygen and glucose, which causes energy failure and neuronal death. After an ischemic stroke insult, astrocytes become reactive and proliferate around the injury site as it develops. Under this scenario, it is difficult to study the specific contribution of astrocytes to the brain region exposed to ischemia. Therefore, this article introduces a methodology to study primary astrocyte reactivity and proliferation under an in vitro model of an ischemia-like environment, called oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD). Astrocytes were isolated from 1-4 day-old neonatal rats and the number of non-specific astrocytic cells was assessed using astrocyte selective marker Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) and nuclear staining. The period in which astrocytes are subjected to the OGD condition can be customized, as well as the percentage of oxygen they are exposed to. This flexibility allows scientists to characterize the duration of the ischemic-like condition in different groups of cells in vitro. This article discusses the timeframes of OGD that induce astrocyte reactivity, hypertrophic morphology, and proliferation as measured by immunofluorescence using Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA). Besides proliferation, astrocytes undergo energy and oxidative stress, and respond to OGD by releasing soluble factors into the cell medium. This medium can be collected and used to analyze the effects of molecules released by astrocytes in primary neuronal cultures without cell-to-cell interaction. In summary, this primary cell culture model can be efficiently used to understand the role of isolated astrocytes upon injury.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Rats